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Most UK Net Users Only Keep a Fixed Telephone Line for Home Broadband

Monday, August 12th, 2013 (8:13 am) - Score 2,656

Do we still need a fixed telephone line? The latest ISPreview.co.uk poll of 998 website visitors has found that 64.3% of respondents would happily get rid of the phone line if it wasn’t still required for their home broadband connection (20.9% answered with “no” and 14.7% said “maybe”).

Perhaps unsurprisingly the vast majority of respondents felt that the price of telephone line rental, which has been racing upwards for the past few years (often above the level of inflation), was the services main drawback. At the same time most people now tend to make voice calls via a mobile phone instead of their fixed line.

Which do you use most for making voice calls?
Mobile (Smartphone) – 62.3%
Fixed Phone Line – 29.8%
Separate VoIP Service – 6.6%
Other – 1.2%

Would you get rid of your fixed line if it wasn’t needed for broadband?
Yes – 64.3%
No – 20.9%
Maybe – 14.7%

Does the high price of a fixed phone line represent its main drawback?
Yes – 73.9%
No – 15.9%
Maybe – 10.1%

Do you currently save money by paying for line rental 12 months in advance?
No – 64.1%
Yes – 35.8%

Mobiles are becoming increasingly dominant for voice calls and so we shouldn’t be surprised that fixed lines are now under pressure. People still require a fixed line for their home broadband service but in the coming years this too could face a threat from the increasingly sophisticated 4G and future 5G based mobile broadband services (assuming their usage allowances become more flexible and that’s tricky due to the higher cost of mobile data capacity).

In the meantime people who wish to save money will either have to commit to a longer contract and pre-pay their line rental (aka Line Rental Saver), or lose the fixed line entirely and take a mobile-only approach. At present the only real exception comes from Virgin Media and a handful of altnet providers, which can offer a naked line style service where you only pay for broadband.

Meanwhile this month’s new survey asks how much broadband data do you consume (download) each month and how long do you spend online? Vote Here.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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34 Responses
  1. adam says:

    We only have a fixed line at home for our broadband and sky so they can connect to the boxes.

    We get faster internet via mobile phone as we have no fttc and only get 1mb download speed.

    Its a shame we cant connect the sky boxes to a mobile phone which can connevt to sky.

    Line rental is really over priced.

    I know bt need to make money to expand services but they do need to look into changing this model in the future.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      You could get a router that supports Mobile Broadband and then use that for the sky boxes.

  2. Adrian says:

    Over 20% of A&A broadband lines are provided with a phone line just for the broadband which we supply as part of the service and allows no outgoing calls. A lot of customers use mobile and/or VoIP instead of a landline.

  3. Adrian says:

    Oh, and an SPA112 VoIP analogue TA works with Sky boxes as their phone line, by the way. I have no copper lines at all at home, so had to do something to keep the Sky boxes happy! Rumour is that they will use Ethernet/Internet instead in future, but do not know if that is true.

  4. Adrian says:

    Oh, and A&A normally allow free calls (e.g. 0800) on the line with broadband service, so works with Sky boxes as well.

  5. Hull_lad says:

    Naked DSL/FttX is a hot topic – It frustrates a number of customers that do not need or use fixed calls that they have to pay for what they perceive is a ‘phone’ line. However, I may be looking at this very simplistically, but for fixed broadband, you need a fixed line. A physical piece of equipment connected to a core network that requires scores of engineers to maintain.

    I appreciate that inclusive calls are now superfluous for many – However, that physical line, and the network itself, still needs to be run and maintained for broadband to work.

    1. “inclusive calls are now superfluous for many” Which is exactly why BT (and others) can afford to offer them I daresay. 🙂

  6. PaulG says:

    Its criminal of BT to force users to have a phone line just for Broadband. I moved to Digital Region and opted for the MPF install, where you get a phone line but only data is enabled, that is still £10/m but cheaper than BT line Rental. I tried to use the Linksys PAP2T-NA for my Sky boxes but they don’t work with Sky boxes. Might look into the SPA112’s though. Thanks for that Adrian. 🙂

    1. Phil says:

      I agree it disgraceful for BT to force customers take on line rental because it only work with ADSL/ADSL2+ but for fibre (surely BT should done fibre to the house) as I know BT can do it, but they won’t do it because they want to keep charged customers for line rental service, bloody rip off.

    2. New_Londoner says:

      I pay the line rental annually, which worked out just over £10/month last time inclusive of call capability. So “naked DSL” from Digital Region only saves you a few pence a month.

    3. Bob says:

      The line rental is to vou the cost of the line. It has nothing to do with what you use the line for so if you use it for only Broadband you still need the line so still need to pay the line rental

  7. Phil says:

    If BT bring in 99% of UK FTTH then we will say goodbye to old fashion fixed telephone lines. Sick of it. Line rental is a waste of money!

    1. “If BT bring in 99% of UK FTTH then ” you will still pay line rental! They will just re-badge if if they need to. 🙂

    2. New_Londoner says:

      Of course it would have to recoup the £25bn or so to get FTTH to 99% of properties, so any saving on the “phone line” would be absorbed in higher monthly fees for broadband! Or did you assume the £25bn was free?

    3. ant says:

      It was their choice to spend 25 billion and as for it being free i see no reason why people should not take that attitude after all it is BTs own attitude to the millions/billions they have and will be awarded in tax payer cash they are in no hurry to pay that back are they?

    4. Bob says:

      FTTH still requires a line so it will still need a line rental. The rental covers maintainance of the line, billing costs and recovers the cost of the line and installation. You are not going to get any fixed line service without a line rental

    5. ant says:

      “The rental covers maintainance of the line, billing costs and recovers the cost of the line and installation.”

      1. Who is paying maintenance fees on phone lines connected to properties which are either empty or where a person has chosen not to have a service from BT?
      2. If line rental covers billing costs why is there no billing cost associated when you take secondary services on a line?
      3. Recovers cost of installation…. Er ok ive been paying for my copper phone line for 20+ years at one property, how much longer till its paid for?

    6. ant says:

      1. Who is paying maintenance fees on phone lines connected to properties which are either empty or where a person has chosen not to have a service from BT?
      2. If line rental covers billing costs why is there no billing cost associated when you take secondary services on a line?
      3. Recovers cost of installation…. Er ok ive been paying for my copper phone line for 20+ years at one property, how much longer till its paid for?

  8. four_eyes says:

    Exactly paying line rental is a feckin rip off as mrs browns says HA just a money racket for greedy BT to get money im sure you could get broadband without having bloody line rental but noooo you have to have this they say shame on you rip off BT

  9. X66yh says:

    OK you lot
    Try thinking about it like this…..
    Your “phone” payments are made up of
    1. Rent/maintenance/upgrade on the physical line to your house
    2. Payment for a voice service on that line
    3. Payment for a data/internet service on that line.

    In the UK items 1 and 2 are lumped together and called “line rental”
    We could equally lump 1 and 3 together so you would pay a LOT more for your broadband and only a bit extra for the voice service….would that make you happier…no thought not.

    In fact we could make it even more complicated so that you pay the 3 parts totally separately to different companies: For example BT retail for the voice service, Plusnet for the internet service and BTopenreach for the physical line.

    So no, line rental is not a rip off – its the way its bundled up that make it appear so.

    1. Kyle says:

      You’ve posted this nonsense drivel before and in response to your nonsense, I repeat…

      Item #3 has nothing to do with this discussion. Everybody is well aware that the data component of the service exists.

      Your point #2 is utter tosh. The whole survey conducted here shows that people do not want a voice service and only maintain a line for data services. How exactly does combining the cost of a service shown to be unwanted exactly add anything to your point?

      Let’s not forget that rental revenues for 100+ year old copper have been recouped many thousands of times over, so this again is not a valid argument.

      Further more, your conclusion is predicated from an illogical argument. What on earth in your three points concludes that line rental is not a ‘rip off’? I’m happy to pay for my data service and less so for the cash cow that is the landline.

  10. demon says:

    its still a rip off no matter obvious why be forced to pay line rental for something you dont want you pay for something what you want not be forced . money scam for BT

  11. Chris Conder says:

    That is why it makes me so cross when they call it ‘fibre broadband’ but you still get it through your phone line, This in a nutshell is the reason why BT are so keen to get the councils to give them funding for the cabinet upgrades. Its because it ties another generation into their obsolete phone network.
    The councils happily go along with calling it superfast fibre broadband.
    It isn’t fibre broadband – we are tied to the old copper for another decade as other countries lay fibre which supports mobile connectivity too. The incumbent is determined to leach every penny from its obsolete assets and the dinosaurs running this country let them get away with it. We need altnets, and we need them now.

    1. TheFacts says:

      An altnet is a company with powers under the Electronic Communications Code. There are 124 in the UK. So they exist and are working across the UK now.

      Moaning about the name ‘superfast fibre broadband’ is old and boring. Move on.

      There is fibre available to any property in the UK, that’s how the mobile base stations connect. The BDUK projects provide fibre duct closer into areas and FoD will be available for those who need or want it.

      If FTTC provides a service at an acceptable price to end users then why not sell it? It’s not an obsolete phone network (soundbite) when all telcos have transmission over fibre. So it’s just the connectivity into the premises that worries you. OK, please provide costings for fibre from typical cabinet locations into eg. 300 properties.

    2. JNeuhoff says:

      FTTC is not an acceptable for many, and mostly unavailable in smaller towns or for rual businesses. And the so-called fibre-on-demand won’t be available for a long time to come, just ask BT if you don’t believe us. Thanks to BTs overrpriced line rental on old copper wires, which have been paid opff many times over by now, BT’s Q2-2013 reported operating profits topped £659m! More than enough profit to start investing in proper fibre lines, or at least to drop the line rental.

  12. Nigel Giddings says:


    Dismissing the misuse of the term ‘Superfast Broadband’ by service providers sets a dangerous precedence. Telecom’s and other technical business areas have suffered from the abuse of technical terms by marketing departments for far too long. When I was taught radio theory the prefix ‘Super’ had a specific meaning, as in HF, VHF, UHF and SHF. Marketeers seem to have abused this and now it would even seem that Super has been redefined as less than Ultra…

    Too state that Fibre is available to any property in the country is a meaningless statement if it takes no account of cost. It is also wrong to imply that mobile base stations connect with Fibre, this again depends on cost with many currently connected by microwave and I’m sure a few will still use copper although I haven’t been in a UK base station for 10 years so I accept they may be thin on the ground.

    The options for FTTP served by a cabinet are very poor when compared with more typical FTTP solutions available elsewhere in the world. As previously said BT are prolonging the use of outdated, obsolete infrastructure.

    1. TheFacts says:

      I agree about the use of the term but it has been in use for a relatively long time now. Finance and marketing take over…

      We are not ‘tied to copper’ if someone can come up with a design and costs for 100% FTTC and then sort out the funding. Without that FTTC plus FoD will be a product that will be suitable for many.

      Yes, base stations uses various methods but to say ‘mobile connectivity’, whatever that is, is restricted is another meaningless soundbite with no detail.

      So what cost is acceptable? Gigaclear’s cheapest is £37/month. A bit more than Tesco – £3.25/month plus line rental (1st 9 months).

      Clearly businesses pay for products that are provided over fibre.

    2. Bob says:

      BT could fin their market share being eroded once HS Broadband take up gets to about the 50% mark as the competition may then see FTTH as viable and they will not be saddled with all the old copper & voice network etc

  13. Phil says:

    Virgin Media is the only provider let u have cable broadband without the need ofd line rental with them.

    1. VirginSucks says:

      Maybe so but they just charge an obscene amount if you opt for broadband only.

      Bradband only £22.50 a month.
      BroadBand+phone 29.49 a month.

      Other Co’s Broadband price per month:
      Plusnet 5.99
      Primus £4
      Tesco £6
      EE £5
      SKY £7.50
      TalkTalk 6.50

      Even with line rental added, these co’s are all cheaper.

    2. Bob says:

      THey do charge a line rental in effect but load it onto the monthly charge rather than show it as a separate cost

    3. ant says:

      No they do not and their charges are quite clear you only pay a line rental if you take a phone service.

  14. zemadeiran says:

    It’s a funny old game…

    As I have mentioned before, the end is definitely quite close for land lines.

    3g and 4g will without doubt bang the last nail into the coffin at least on the retail side of things. This of course is dependent on removing the bandwidth limitation myth currently imposed on mobile broadband.

    Bandwidth is essentially unlimited and the mobile companies should be brought to heal in regards to the consumer gouging being applied in the UK.

    Let me give everyone an example of Vodafone in Portugal:


    Have a look at the “best net 4G 150” package at 22.50 euros per month!!!???

    It comes with “Sem limite de tráfego nem tempo” unlimited traffic and time.

    I know that Portugal has a 10M population as opposed to the UK’s 60M but bare in mind that Portugal’s GDP is roughly $285 Billion as opposed to the UK’s $2 Trillion…

    Would someone be so kind as to tell me why the Vodafone Group turned over 46 billion in 2012 and still gouges people in the country where it was born?

    Please correct my figures if they are wrong.

    Regard to all.

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